The life of a Qatari prince as a USC student

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Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was a USC student but didn’t attend classes all that often, reports the LA Times’ Harriet Ryan. Photo by Amy Ta.

For millions of college students, no matter where you go, the experience is similar: cram sessions, dorm roommates, scrounging for cheap eats.

But let’s say you’re the son of the one of the wealthiest families on the planet, your parents are among the biggest donors to higher education in America, and you’re a Qatari sheikh.

While attending USC, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, or KHK as he’s more colloquially known, lived out of the Beverly Wilshire hotel with his own butlers, drove flashy sports cars, and took expensive trips to Vegas.

“He arrived in 2011 on a private jet, and brought with him several drivers, security. He had someone who prepared his tea. He had someone who prepared his hookah,” says LA Times Reporter Matt Hamilton.

KHK spent two years at LA Mission Community College in Sylmar before he began at USC. But he didn’t spend time on either campus very often.

“His former employees told us that he didn’t really go to class all that often, and when he did go, he liked to walk around, stroll the grounds. He wasn’t really cracking the books in the library,” says LA Times Reporter Harriet Ryan.

KHK’s mother met with former USC President Max Nikias before he started classes there. Qatar is the largest foreign funder of American higher education, with more than $1 billion given to American universities. Both KHK’s family and USC deny that any donations were tied to his admission.

KHK ended up graduating from USC with a master’s degree in public diplomacy.